April 17, 2006
Update on the 8th Congressional District Race

Congressman Dave Reichert kicks off his re-election campaign with a breakfast tomorrow at Meydenbauer.

Meanwhile, this is from a weekend print-only article in the King County Journal about challenger Darcy Burner:

(hat tip: Richard Pope)
What's odd here is that she's now claiming that she left Microsoft to raise her son. This is different from her official campaign bio, which states that "She left Microsoft to spend the time necessary to be elected to the United States Congress". And both statements are inconsistent with the real reason she left Microsoft, which was to attend law school. I have a hard time understanding why she doesn't just say that she left Microsoft to earn a law degree and took a leave after her first year in order to run for Congress. Admittedly, that's not the most compelling story to run on, and having some specific accomplishments to boast about would be much stronger. That she keeps changing her story only draws attention to the fact that her actual biography is not particularly compelling. Kind of like claiming she's a "former Microsoft executive", when she very definitely was not, as one reader who works at Microsoft explained in detail in a comment (I reposted it in the extended entry below). One can have a successful career in politics as a Microsoft employee, whether or not one was an executive. (Rep. Toby Nixon, for example, proudly advertises himself as a "Program Manager"). Burner's pattern of little white lies is troubling. The fact that Burner feels the need to pretend that she was an executive when she wasn't, and to erase her year in law school from her official resume, makes one wonder what else she's misrepresenting. It should also make one wonder how truthful she would be with her constituents, if ever elected to office.

From reader Marc:

I looked it up on the MS internal site while killing time on a slow day here at work. Darcy was a Group Program Manager at her highest level of work as near as I can document. That would make her, in MS-speak, a level 63 or 64. She would report into a Marketing Director, who then would likely report into a Senior Marketing Director, who would then report into a General Manager, which is generally the lowest level that anyone would consider an executive. In most organizations, a GM will report into another GM or a VP, but normally there are multiple levels of VPs before you get to the C-level, and of course all the C-level folks report to Balmer. In the case of a friend of mine who is in a similar sort of group in marketing, he is the Group Marketing Manager, reports into a director who reports into an "officer" who then reports into a VP who then reports to the COO who reports to Balmer. That would mean, if Darcy's org was that flat (they skip the GM level in his part of the org chart, for example, and that may not have been the case with Darcy's org), she may have had quarterly access to someone at the executive level but was at least two and maybe three levels below anything that could remotely be considered an executive. To give you an idea, if she were in the sales organization she would have been at the level of your average account generalist in the field sales organization from a career level perspective, and even though those guys call themselves Account Executives, I think we could all agree they aren't real executives.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at April 17, 2006 10:41 AM | Email This
1. Her bio isn't compelling enough to run for Hoboken City Council, much less the State legislature, and much, much less than U.S. House of Representatives.

Let's hope she is the Ds selected candidate.

Posted by: swatter on April 17, 2006 11:49 AM
2. Nothing to see here...move along.

(just have to get that in before the usual suspects show up and do)

Posted by: Palouse on April 17, 2006 12:10 PM
3. She will be. Goldy and the trolls (none of whom have answered the Steve_dog challenge) will praise her as a combo of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and JFK all rolled up into one package...

Posted by: Steve_dog on April 17, 2006 12:13 PM
4. Uh... She is a female and a Democrat. That should be enough to get her elected in this state. Now, if she wears tennis shoes......

Posted by: Huey on April 17, 2006 12:13 PM
5. As being a father of a 3 year old I cannot imagine running for an office like this in this stage of my childs life. As a mother one would think this feeling would be stronger and makes me realy question Darcies family values. Does she expect the village to raise and nurture this child. She seems to represent one of the problems today in America. More concerned about personal accomplishments than the proper raising and nurturing of her child.

Posted by: Jimbo on April 17, 2006 12:17 PM
6. Former State Representative and Secretary of State candidate Laura Ruderman described herself in her official bio as a Microsoft "program manager," rather than "executive," too.

Posted by: stu on April 17, 2006 12:18 PM
7. Well the bottom line is Democrats can change their story to any line that is needed at the time. No one can question them or show the flip/flops.

Posted by: David Anfinrud on April 17, 2006 12:18 PM
8. Bingo. She made these "little" statements as if they were no big deal, and then she's never bothered to address and clarify the misconceptions.

This is the sign of an amatuer (a good reason not to elect her) and someone afraid to confront even a minor issue, directly and with integrity (another good reason not to elect her.)

No matter what she claims, listing an inflated title or alluding to a grander previous role at the largest, major, brand-name company in the CD is not minor. Many people have worked very hard to attain top titles at Microsoft, and this should be front an center in the mind of her would-be constituents. If she had said she was a former executive of a small company, this would have been no big deal, but she's chosen to use the prominent name of Microsoft to her advantage, therefore one would hope that she do so with some basic integrity. Or if this is indeed a minor mixup, then address the issue quickly and confidently, rather than let speculation fester.

All of these shortcomings point to inexperience and a lack of confidence necessary in a run for Congress.

Posted by: Jeff B. on April 17, 2006 12:24 PM
9. 1 All she had to say was she was a program manager who quit to go to law school and then decided to run for US Senate
2 Quitting law school after a year is no big deal
3 Stefan's correct in that fluffing something simple "makes one wonder what else she's misrepresenting. It should also make one wonder how truthful she would be with her constituents, if ever elected to office."

Posted by: Green Lake Mark on April 17, 2006 12:26 PM
10. I would tend to agree, Burner's pattern of little white lies probably is troubling. If she wants to make it in politics around here she had better start really lying her a$$ off, regardless of which party she should affiliate herself with. If she should decide to become a Republican at any time in the future she may want to bone up on dry shaving every constituency that has ever supported her as well, seems that is the path to the top around here. Can you say Finkbinder?

Posted by: JDH on April 17, 2006 12:32 PM
11. I still think your claim Burner misrepresented herself is ridiculous. The word "executive", like the word "manager", for instance, can have a generic as well a Microsoft specific meaning. Under the generic use of the word, Burner was an executive.

The following hypothetical shows the error in your argument. It appears Microsoft also has a "Manager" level judging from the number of positions including it in the title. Let's assume Microsoft also has "Lead Programmer" as a title. It is not a "Manager" level job, but the "Lead Programmer" supervises 20 other programmers. Under the Microsoft organization table, the person is not a Manager. However, under the generic use of the word, that person certainly would be a "manager" in the sense that he manages subordinates. Our hypothetical employee would be entitled to claim he was a manager at Microsoft without misrepresenting himself.

Your argument presumes that Burner was representing she was an "Executive" level employee under the Microsoft meaning of the word, and she clearly was not an Executive in that sense. However, if she meant "executive" in the generic sense of the word, which can certainly be different that what Microsoft defines the word to mean, it is not a misrepresentation.

This is a very slender reed upon which to make such a serious charge. It is certainly not the same as falsely claiming to have a degree, for instance. It is also different than the Michael Brown case, because Assistant City Manager was an actual job title that Brown never had. If someone tried to play these types of semantic games with a candidate you supported, and charged them with misrepresenting themselves, you would treat the contention with well-deserved scorn.

Posted by: wayne on April 17, 2006 12:36 PM
12. Question for you Wayne:

1. Does the word "executive" connotate a higher level than the word "manager"?

2. Which word is inclusive of the other? In other words, which statement is true:

a) All executives are managers.

b) All managers are executives.

Clearly the answer to #1 is yes, and 2a is the true statement. All managers are not executives. So while the dictionary definition of executive may technically get Darcy off of a lie, it does not get her off as a misrepresentation of her position.

Posted by: Palouse on April 17, 2006 12:54 PM
13. Another few questions for you Wayne. What matters is not what semantically constitutes an executive, as the term is not being applied without the qualification of the company in which she worked. So the question is, what denotes the term executive at Microsoft? As Microsoft insiders have pointed out, it's a level or two down from Balmer at best that is a true executive in the Microsoft sense of the word. A level that was well above the level that Ms. Burner was at when she left Microsoft.

Why would one list themselves as an executive of Microsoft, if one were not using the connotation of executive as it applies to Microsoft? Sure there is a generic use of the term, but Ms. Burner did not try and evoke that usage, or she would not have used the word Microsoft in conjunction. Ms. Burner knew full well the context of the word executive with the word Microsoft, since she had worked there for several years.

Futhermore, there's an implicit understanding in the corporate world, with which the vast majority of residents of this state are familiar, of the term executive. Executive means top manager. It means one who is directly involved in the operation of the business and not in simply performing a function of the business. In many cases executives are also officers of the company.

And to be sure, there are other titles with the word executive in them, that also show that everyone knows the context of the word is signicant. Salesman are often called account executives, but everyone knows that does not necessarily mean they are officers of the company, or top level managers, etc.

Words have meaning. That's why we use them, and they also have context and that's why we put them together to form ideas. If Ms. Burner had meant to use the term executive in the context of manager, which is perfectly legitimate, why would she not quickly correct this misunderstanding and issue a simple statement defusing the situation? All that she would have to do is say that indeed, she was a program manager, and that she merely meant the term executive in a generic sense, and that we had misunderstood her use of the term.

This issue is entirely Ms. Burner's as she was the one who listed herself as an executive and has refused to address the ensuing discussion about the legitimacy of that title in relation to the duties she performed while at Microsoft. In other words, this is fair game.

Posted by: Jeff B. on April 17, 2006 01:18 PM
14. I agree that it's quite fair to point out that she really wasn't near being an executive, and that it's wierd that she jumps around about her reason for leaving MSFT. Reichert will defeat her.

Posted by: Misty on April 17, 2006 01:19 PM
15. wayne,

Is anyone claiming that Darcy lied? I don't think that's the case, I think we're all of the mind that she fluffed her resume.

You can spin hypotheticals all you want about the different between an executive and a 'Microsoft Executive'. But none of this debate would be necessary if Darcy Burner published exactly what her job title was! Toby Nixon was a Program Manager. What was Darcy Burner? (We know she was a Program Manager, but she's never stated her position).

So this could all be cleared up if Darcy comes forward and fesses up about her job experience by putting out a press release that lists all of her job titles. Isn't that the least we'd expect from a US House Candidate? So wayne, will you be contacting her campaign to request this so we can clear the whole thing up?

I know that Dave Reichert was a Detective. I know that he was Sheriff of King County. I know that he put away the Green River Killer. I know that he's currently a Representative in the US House.

I don't believe that Darcy Burner was a Microsoft Executive, nor will much of her constituency. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have already donated to Reichert's campaign - after Burner announced her candidacy. Doesn't that say it all?

Posted by: Larry on April 17, 2006 01:23 PM
16. This is the most important point.

Darcy Burner, as a shameless liar, is a PERFECT LIBERAL DEMOCRAT candidate for office in this area.
Like peas in a pod.

It's still not clear if she is stupid enough though.

Posted by: Amused by liberals on April 17, 2006 01:43 PM
17. Wayne, please point me to one newspaper article, any company news release, SEC filing doucments or whatever that matches your understanding of executive, and I will grant Darcy her self-claimed title.


Posted by: C. Oh on April 17, 2006 02:27 PM
18. Yawn,

This is not getting any play where it counts (the King County Journal described her background and reason for leaving MSFT with no comment about any "controversy"). If the Journal won't pick up this "story" no one else will.

Bottom line is that Reichert is a water carrier for a very unpopular regime and it's going to be hard for him to keep his seat.

Go Darcy!

Posted by: Claire on April 17, 2006 03:04 PM
19. Don't you all love watching the left spin this as "It depends on the meaning of the word executive?" Darcy was an executive at Microsoft before she was not. Etc. Etc. They just keep digging.


Posted by: Jeff B. on April 17, 2006 03:07 PM
20. I can already hear the debate between Reichert and Burner.

Modertor: "Comment on your experience and qualifications for US Representative"

Reichert: "My record stands. I've been active in the community for years, I've been a key contributor to WA law enforcement, and I've had the privledge to serve WA as Representative in the 8th district."

Burner: "I was a programmer. Then I was a VP at Microsoft. I quit Microsoft, to like, take a one year crash course on making laws. Laws are like, so fascinating. Now I'm totally the more qualifed candidate for this position, because unlike my opponent, I so know that Chimpy Bushhitler is destroying America."

Posted by: Jeff B. on April 17, 2006 03:17 PM
21. Well its nice to see Darcy is tight with the "Claire" Crowd. As Claire no doubt understands, nobody in the 8th CD knows Darcy, knows what Darcy stands for or against, nobody really cares either. Go back to Law School Darcy, the Democrats can always use another hack to justify their illegal, immoral abuses of the public in WA. Become another mindless drone of the WEA like Claire.

Posted by: Just Wondering on April 17, 2006 03:40 PM
22. Wayne,

The generic use of the term "executive," if the American Heritage dictionary is to be trusted, "a person with administrative or managerial authority in an organization." At MS, what Darcy did could not be so described. Her job did involve managing some folks, but she did not have organizational level duties but rather occupied a small niche job within the Windows Server marketing group for a subset of customers (ISV partners). Her view of the organization was only a tiny sliver. When people talk about executives as different from standard managers, it is the level of authority and visibility within the organzation that matters--executives are broad and strategic, while managers are tactical. Darcy was tactical, which is why her project budget was in the millions rather than in the billion dollar range. You claim this is a slender read, but in reality your definition is so expansive as to be a meaningless cop-out.

This is why, as I stated earlier, the lowest level at MS before someone really has executive authority (and responsibility) is at the General Manager title. This title, from a job level perspective, is generally four levels from where Darcy likely was if she was indeed a a group-level manager within the marketing organization, which is where I'm showing her name attached to internal documents from right before she left.

The key here is that Darcy didn't claim to be a generic business "executive," but "an ex-Microsoft executive" when she never was. Football coaches at Notre Dame lose their jobs for such fabrication--would you say that going to Congress as a representative is a less important position?

Finally, your example of a "lead developer" really is moot. In order to be a "lead developer" you have to have a team to lead. It might not have the word "manager" in the title, but in order to have that position you must, according to MS HR job descriptions, manage a team. Furthermore, arguing that managing a team is a real big deal neglects to mention that Microsoft has a ton of contractors, and even entry-level folks in the Business and Marketing Organization often manage contract positions as part of their jobs as "program managers." A friend of mine started right before the start of this fiscal year as a program manager in the BMO in a group very similar to the one Darcy was in--as an entry-level marketing employee he had two contract workers who reported to him. This is exceedingly common. It also goes to show how un-meaningful a position a line manager can be in marketing at Microsoft. Her last title, as a group manager, is more impressive, but it still means she was managing mostly folks at my friend's level, and thus not exactly the power broker she would like you to believe she was by bandying around the term "executive" in her resume.

I wouldn't say that this necessarily disqualifies her, but it should make one duly suspicious about how she represents herself. Just because politicians often misrepresent themselves on policy matters doesn't mean they should get a head-start on prevarication before they even get elected.

Posted by: Marc on April 17, 2006 05:30 PM
23. Darcy Burner would in all likelihood vote to raise taxes on us, and that makes her a bad candidate in my book. She doesn't understand that we are already paying more than we should. Vote for Reichert.

Posted by: Misty on April 17, 2006 06:09 PM
24. Darcy Burner was so excited on June 15, 2005, the day she filed with the FEC to run for Congress, that she couldn't control herself. Mind you, this was just five days after finishing final exams for her first (and only) year of law school at the University of Washington.

Burner raced home to share the good news with her husband. She wasn't paying attention to the cars stopped in front of her to make a left turn and rammed right into them. It was 6:00 p.m. and full daylight. This took place at the intersection of SE Duthie Hill Road and SE 33rd Street in Sammamish, about 9 miles from Burner's home. Burner caused a four car chain reaction collision, which resulted in two of the cars having to be towed.

Among the passengers were three children in one car and one child in another car, ages between 22 months and 5 years. At least two people were injured in the accident, including someone else's 3 year old child. Burner's own son, Henry, who was about 29 months old at the time, was not a passenger in her car.

Source: King County Sheriff's Office Incident Report No. 05-170074 (Washington State Accident Report No. 1716184)

Too bad Darcy Burner isn't spending more time taking care of her own small child, instead of injuring other people's small children through her own carelessness.

Posted by: Richard Pope on April 17, 2006 06:11 PM
25. Is it that time again,...It seems like the canceled check I wrote for the 2004 campaign just came back in my last bank statement!!!

Posted by: Pacific Grove Phlash on April 17, 2006 08:10 PM
26. Richard, could not agree more. With a young child at home is not the time for Mom to become a cross-country jet setter going back and forth between the 8th and DC. I don't care how much our society thinks that woman can be superwomen and have it all, if one has ever seen the bond between mother and small child, one knows that it's not going to be too good for young Burner to be wondering why mom is always gone.

The "I want it all and kids too" mindset displayed by Burner won't be impressive to the stay-at-home moms in the 8th CD.

And as I mentioned in another comment, did you happen to notice if the officer's report mentioned anything about Darcy being distracted and on a cell phone on the day of her accident? Seems a likely cause. She's lucky no one got hurt any worse. Enough speed to knock around four cars? Maybe one of her vitims would like to come forward and tell the story in more detail?

Posted by: Jeff B. on April 17, 2006 11:35 PM
27. I hope she has a good catholic nanny. Mexican, of course. Don't ask for a green card.

Posted by: ljm on April 18, 2006 09:04 AM
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